Comparison of landing biomechanics between male and female professional dancers

Karl F Orishimo, Ian J Kremenic, Evangelos Pappas, Marshall Hagins, Marijeanne Liederbach
American Journal of Sports Medicine 2009, 37 (11): 2187-93

BACKGROUND: The incidence of anterior cruciate ligament injuries among dancers is much lower than that among team sport athletes and no clear gender disparity has been reported in the dance population. Although numerous studies have observed differences in lower extremity landing biomechanics between male and female athletes, there is currently little research examining the landing biomechanics of male and female dancers. Comparing landing biomechanics within this population may help explain the lower overall anterior cruciate ligament injury rates and the lack of gender disparity.

HYPOTHESIS: Due to the fact that dancers receive jump-specific and balance-specific training from a very young age, we hypothesized that there would be no gender differences in drop-landing biomechanics in professional dancers.

STUDY DESIGN: Controlled laboratory study.

METHODS: Kinematics and ground-reaction forces were recorded as 33 professional modern and ballet dancers (12 men and 21 women) performed single-legged drop landings from a 30-cm platform. Joint kinematics and kinetics were compared between genders.

RESULTS: No gender differences in joint kinematics or kinetics were found during landings (multivariate analysis of variance: P = .490 and P = .175, respectively). A significant relationship was found between the age at which the dancers began training and the peak hip adduction angle during landing (r = .358, P = .041).

CONCLUSION: In executing a 30-cm drop landing, male and female dancers exhibited similar landing strategies and avoided landing patterns previously associated with increased injury rates.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Commonly reported biomechanical differences between men and women, as well as the gender disparity among athletes in the incidence of ACL injuries, may be the result of inadequate experience in proper balance and landing technique rather than intrinsic gender factors. Beginning jump-specific and balance-specific training at an early age may counteract the potentially harmful adaptations in landing biomechanics observed in female athletes after maturity.

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